I made an “excuse” to get back to New Orleans this last weekend. Honestly, I had some “final” cleaning out to do on the house before we actually sell it. Pretty cool, really—we’re selling our house to our neighbor Donald Harrison and it would be nice to visit the house again when he comes out for Mardi Gras morning.
Anyway, it was the final weekend of Jazzfest and I had to make it out there for one day at least—not to mention all the good music happening in the “new” entertainment district along Frenchman Street. So, I worked my butt off on Friday cleaning out closets in the house. I can’t believe how much work that was—a good ten “industrial size” bags of stuff. I couldn’t look at some of the stuff I threw out—it’s just too hard sometimes. But out it went, and I worked muscles I haven’t worked since October. I was one sore puppy at the end of the day.
This was actually a wonderful trip back home. The most important part of New Orleans for many of us are the social networks we’ve established over the years. I have a friend who is a wonderful artist in New Orleans. His name is Simon and when I called him he came by the house with his standard mode of travel (bicycle) and his six-pack of Heinecken. We sat on the porch of my house drinking Heinecken’s just like it was a “typical” May evening. As if anything is typical anymore in New Orleans. But it all felt good. The street lights are all on, and it provides a “façade” of normality to the neighborhood, even if there aren’t many people in the neighborhood. We ended up heading out to a crawfish boil Uptown on Saturday, which was one of the highlights of my trip back home.
So, I worked my ass off on Friday. Saturday morning, I wake up with “another” case of Katrina cough (goddam the mold in the house), but I head out to see Simon for early morning café (he lives a few blocks down from me in the Broadmoor neighborhood) and then back to the house to finish some final packing of boxes. There is more to do, no doubt, but that will have to wait until the end of May. After packing, I head back to my friend Jon’s place in the Quarter where I am staying, shower, and then head on my bike (which I had just cleaned up from all the Katrina crap on it—man, it runs really well now) to the Fairgrounds.
First stop is Liuzza’s. Two rum and cokes, to go. Isn’t it nice to say “to go” for drinks? Where else in the world can you say “rum and coke to go”? Why can’t other places be like New Orleans. So, I finish my drinks of choice and head to the Fairgrounds. Not much on the agenda today—just let the day go. And, so I head to the WWOZ Hospitality Tent. The rest of the afternoon, I spend time saying hello to friends and former listeners to my show—catching up with politics, music, housing, mold, and the other issues of rebuilding New Orleans. DJ’s I haven’t seen since August. Listeners who say they appreciated having my children on the air with me on Sunday and Monday mornings. People catching up with 8 months of lost time. I could have stayed there all day. More on this later, but I caught up with two particular friends of mine there—Johnny Jackson (former city council member) and Jacques Morial (yes, Morial) and got their insights on the upcoming election. You all can say what you want about Jacques, but I have really come to respect his insights on politics over the past few years. He really has an incredible heart for the oppressed in New Orleans—more than many I know. His heart is in the right place—I trust him very much.
At some point in time, I “MUST” leave the WWOZ Hospitality tent to actually hear some music. I head over to hear the Little Rascals with Corey Henry and the gang. His daughter is dancing on stage, and the sound is incredible (if the sound-person would just turn up their mikes). They rip into a rendition of and Indian Chant, and I pretty much lose it at that point. Crying again in New Orleans. What is it about this city and the music that moves me to such emotion? Luckily, I have my sunglasses on and noone can see. But I’m dancing in the front row, moved by the spirit of the second-line, imagining I am on the streets in the Treme, and all along knowing that I am not here right now, that I’m 600 miles away in some edge of the Central Texas hill country making up New Orleans as best I can in my little corner of heaven.
There is so much more to write about, but I don’t think I have time right now. More tomorrow, I promise....